| El Paso Times
Memorial services began Wednesday for 1-year-old Celeste Ariane Loera, 5-year-old Gustavo Alfredo Loera and 6-year-old Juan Angel Loera Jr.
A rosary and vigil for the children took place Wednesday evening at La Paz Faith Center, 1201 N. Piedras St. A funeral Mass was celebrated at the center Thursday morning, followed by burial at Mount Carmel Cemetery.
Some family members cried Thursday as the coffins were carried out of La Paz Faith Center to be loaded into a hearse.
The children’s father, Juan Angel Loera, cried with a pained, heartbroken look on his face as he helped carry a small coffin.
Loera, who had scrape marks on his face, at one point put his head down, his forehead touching the coffin.
The children died Sunday night when they were ejected out of a Ford Expedition driven by their father that slammed into a rock wall after a high-speed collision with a car at Titanic Avenue and Howard Street.
A 13-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy in the SUV were hospitalized with serious injuries.
Funeral services were donated to the Loera family by Perches Funeral Homes, Mount Carmel Cemetery and the local charity Operation H.O.P.E.
Scores of friends and family members attended the funeral. Flowers and pink-heart and silver-star balloons were part of the decorations.
Teddy bears, toy cars, balloons and religious candles made up a makeshift memorial at the crash scene. At the site, a photo of the two boys and baby girl was decorated with rosaries.
Signs stated, “RIP Little Angels” and “I hope you’re dancing in the sky. RIP Little ones.”
Neighbors continued visiting the memorial Thursday. A man kneeled, made the sign of the cross and prayed. “Pobrecitos, man,” another neighbor said, looking at a photo of the children
A funeral for three children is especially heartbreaking and services were donated to ease some of the burden on the family, said Jorge A. Ortiz, general manager for Perches Funeral Homes.
Photos of the smiling young children were by their coffins as relatives wearing face masks mourned Wednesday evening. Funeral services were conducted with limited occupancy to maintain social distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Juan and Gustavo were students at Sunrise Mountain Elementary School in the same Northeast neighborhood where the accident took place, an El Paso Independent School District spokesman confirmed. Juan was a first-grader and Gustavo was in kindergarten.
Religious memorial cards for each child quoted Psalm 23 in Spanish, “El Señor es mi Pastor. Nada me falta.” (The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want).
The parents “are inconsolable. There is no other word to describe it,” Ortiz said.
The parents described the little boys and baby girl as “very happy children. They always loved singing. They would wake up singing,” Ortiz said.
“In some way, they (the parents) are finding comfort in those memories they have of their children. I think that will bring them some tranquility in the middle of this pain,” Ortiz said.
The parents “continuously mention how the boys were always with the girl, and that gives them a sense of tranquility knowing that they are still together at the side of God,” Ortiz said.
The family made a special request that the memorial service play specific songs that the kids knew the words to and loved singing, said Ortiz, adding that he didn’t remember the names of the songs.
More: El Paso police arrest dad, car driver accused of fleeing in collision that killed 3 kids
The parents said that the baby girl loved to dance and the boys would sing, Ortiz said.
The parents told funeral home staff that it brings them a sense of peace knowing the children “are listening to the songs” at the memorial, Ortiz said.
“They are dancing in heaven, all three are together in peace. We know they left together.”
Daniel Borunda may be reached at 915-546-6102; firstname.lastname@example.org; @BorundaDaniel on Twitter.
Keep up with El Paso news that matters. Click here to subscribe to elpasotimes.com.